The hoppy world of Abdij de Koningshoeven

| Sanne Leenders

Lunch with a Trappist beer, a film presentation about the interesting history and a full tour of the brewery. Without the abbey there would be no brewery, without the brewery there would be no abbey. I took a look at the hoppy world of Abdij de Koningshoeven. The beer of working and praying. The beer of silence. 
Photo's: Sanne Leenders

Trappist monastery Abdij Onze Lieve Vrouw van Koningshoeven is located in Landscape Park Moerenburg-Koningshoeven, near the Oisterwijkse Vennen. It is easily accessible via the main roads such as the A58/A65. Once you take the exit you can see in the distance the high towers in the horizon. A prestigious appearance. I was immediately triggered to immerse myself in the history of the abbey, the brewing process and of course the delicious end result: the only real La Trappe Trappistenbeer.

The Tasting Room
The first thing I noticed when I was standing in front of the gate was the smell of fresh hops, yeast and malt. What is inside the walls of the abbey? I went on a voyage of discovery. I started my journey well, with a delicious lunch in the Tasting Room. The Tasting Room is the connecting factor between the consumer and the brewery. The bread comes from the hands of the monks. Every dish on the menu contains a tip so that your beer choice matches your food perfectly. Out of all the goodies I chose the pistolet spicy chicken in a marinade by La Trappe Blond. To make that even better, I added a La Trappe Blond. Highly recommended when you like a soft malty beer.

Brouwerij tour
After the hunt had quietened down, I added myself to the group tour. You can participate from 1 person. Throughout the year there are tours from Monday to Friday at 2:00 p.m. On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (except King's Day at 2:00 p.m.). Also with all your English speaking friends you can, after registration, participate in a tour on Tuesday and Thursday at 12:00 noon. Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Are you eighteen years or older? Then a ticket only costs 12 euros. Youth aged 12 to 17 can already participate for 6 euros and kids aged 3 to 11 years for 2 euros.

The tour started with a short film of 10-15 minutes which takes you in a bird's eye view along the La Trappe from the past to the present. I did like this summary of the history. To make sure no one would dry out during the film, everyone could choose a La Trappe Trappist of their choice. I went here for the La Trappe Puur: an organic Trappist beer with a fixed head. I thought it was a nice, fresh and light beer. I did like to hear this summary of the history, even before we actually went into the brewery. This really gave you a feeling for the beer and the process. 

At the end of the 19th century a small group of Trappist monks fled from France to Berkel-Enschot. Here they found a piece of heath with some hooves and a sheepfold. They embraced this former country residence of King Willem II - the royal farms - as their new home. This was the beginning of the brewery. The beginning of a life full of prayer and work in peace and quiet.

Did you know that: 
The Tasting Room was built as an exact replica of the sheepfold that used to be there?

'To do good' 
The monks have the inner conviction to do good. Hence part of the proceeds goes to charities. My tour guide Leonie was the first to show us where the water purification system is located. The goal is to eventually use this water again in the beer. There are 3 wells on the terrain, each 15 meters deep. In addition, the Diamant-groep and the Prins Heerlijk foundation are present on the site. In this way, people with disabilities are involved in society. I think this is a very nice initiative! And, walking over the vast terrain, with their own brewery, tasting room, monastery shop, cheese dairy, beekeeping, chocolate shop and horticulture I can understand why this is such a good combination.

Did you know that: 
Monks used not to be allowed to talk. Yet they found it useful to buy a telephone to call the brewery from the bakery. But, how do you communicate if you're not allowed to talk? Well, with morse code! Super handy, right?

La Trappe Trappist is not just a beer. It is a meaningful beer that really lets you enjoy a rich taste and sincere story. The beer is seen as the connection between monastic life and the outside world. The assortment consists of 8 fantastic beers: La Trappe Puur, Witte Trappist, Blond, Dubbel, Bockbier, Isid'or, Tripel and Quadrupel. Nice to know is that La Trappe Dubbel is the oldest of all. The La Trappe Isid'or is an anniversary beer on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Bierbrouwerij de Koningshoeven. Named after the first brewer of the abbey: Brother Isidorus.

The cap on it! 
From the silence you can walk straight into the activity of the brewery. Every day people here work with great passion and pleasure on brewing the tastiest beer, bottling it, but also making cheese, honey, biscuits, chocolate, breads, sausages and raisin bread. All this can be found in the monastery shop on the grounds. And, if you think that such a nice beer is made like this, then you're wrong! The whole process takes about 6 to 7 weeks. But then you have something! Beer with a heart. That's La Trappe Trappist. I thought it was a very nice and interesting outing and I would recommend everyone to go here. So, are you still looking for a nice company outing, activity for a girlfriend weekend or just a filling day? Come along and experience it for yourself.

Sanne Leenders